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Prisons of love

Prisons of Love
“The neglect of women’s rights means the social and economic potential of half the population is underused,” said Michelle Bachelet, executive director of U.N. Women, U.N.’s new entity for gender equality and women’s empowerment, at its launch last week.

Poverty, inequality and violence plague women around the world every day. Many activists work hard to empower women, and the media has increased its coverage of these issues. But one root cause of the inequality and injustice is usually overlooked: love.

Society’s system of thought has transformed love from a gentle embrace to a sharp wire that holds women back and forbids them from moving as freely as men. Paradoxically, the same love that motivates families to protect their daughters also restricts them. My family is a prime example.

One day, when I returned from school, I heard a thunderous voice. My mother interrogated me about arriving home 15 minutes late. I dried up like a piece of wood and stammered that I had been playing with my friends and stopped at one’s house to drop off a math notebook. She gave me tea and sweets and explained why she had been upset.

“You are a piece of my heart,” she said. “I don’t want you to be harmed, so don’t go to your friends’ houses. It is dangerous – they might kidnap you!”

Suddenly, my younger brother leaped into our home like a red fire.

“Give me some tea!” he said. “I ran a lot and I am thirsty! You know, Mother, while I was playing in Mohamad’s garden, I ran all the way to Auntie Bassira’s house.”

My mom remained calm and did not interrogate him. I protested that she was treating us differently because of our genders. My brother was younger than me yet received more freedom.

“Indeed, he also should not go so far,” was all she said.

I then asked if I could ride my bicycle with my brother. Before she answered, he turned to me, his eyes black like Aglianico grapes.

“Mom, I don’t like people talking behind my sister’s back, so please tell her not to wear tight jeans and dresses on the street,” he said. “People will look at her, and I don’t want to play with her in front of my friends.”

I started to shout back, but my mom agreed with him.

“He is right dear,” my mom said. “Take care of yourself and be the way that other girls are.”

This afternoon taught me three things.

First, families limit their daughters’ freedom more than their sons’ freedom because they want to protect their daughters. After my mom’s advice, I never went out with friends or tasted the different flavors of life. But writer Oscar Wilde writes that mistakes can be positive.

“Some of the best lessons we ever learn are learned from past mistakes,” he wrote.

Just as families give their sons the freedom to experience different good and bad things, they should allow their daughters this same opportunity.

Second, families limit their daughters’ choices more than their sons’ choices because they want to shield their daughters from society’s judgment. They don’t realize that it would be better to empower their daughters to shape society instead of succumbing to it. My brother wanted me to wear clothes that would make others view me positively for my own good, but encouraging me to wear the clothes I like to wear would’ve empowered me instead of empowering society’s judgment of me.

Finally, families teach their daughters and sons different gender roles because they want to make them “proper” citizens. Although this practice is done out of love, it actually creates gender and inequality.

Therefore, I believe love imprisons women. To create free women, we, the future parents of a new generation should love our sons and daughters the same way. It is our families that form society, so if we behave with an informed and genuine consciousness, we can abolish any ideas that create inequality to enjoy an equal and peaceful society.

“There is no limit to what women can do,” Bachelet said at the U.N. Women launch.

Unless we limit them by loving daughters differently than sons.
This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

Comments

vivian's picture

You have picked your piece

You have picked your piece from an angle that is been neglected by the society.

Gender role should be an important topic to address. Yes, we agree that our parent loves us but should that affect our future tomorrow. It is not right the way parent treat boys and girls differently. It is gender inequality. Girls are expected to dress modest yet boys should to dress as they like.

Your piece is cute.

Vivian

''Every woman have a story at every stage of Life''

laurabstull's picture

Marvah, Your piece is

Marvah,

Your piece is expressive and opinionated, and you did a great job on your Module III assignment! Although in many ways you've chosen a topic that can be argued in the contrary position, you've carefully explained your stance in a way that both acknowledges and disagrees with that logic. By doing so, you've crafted a persuasive argument in favor of your opinion.

Great job, I look forward to reading more from you!

Laura

Isisara Bey's picture

Prison of Love

Dear Marvah,

In America we have a saying, "Mothers raise their daughters but love their sons." Your article hints strongly of that dichotemy. When we say that we usually mean that girls are expected to handle the responsibilities of a home and care giving, of work and independence much sooner than boys. Boys tend to be taken care of and preserved as princes much longer by their mothers and sometimes their sisters. There are gender inequities in this country as well, but they are not as wide as you have described in yours. By using the simple example of children playing after school and the clothing they wear, you have revealed another layer of meaning in the difference between how boys and girls are raised, and its exponential impact in the larger society.

The most poignant phrase in your piece is about how society has "transformed love from a gentle embrace to a sharp wire that holds women back..." Very piercing and powerful. Indeed a prison on love.

Isisara

beth johnson's picture

It Begins So Early

Marva,

What an exemplary Op Ed piece!

Your writing so expresses the simplicity and yet also the complexity of the matter. How easy it might sound to love, to treat your sons and daughters equally. And yet, for so many reasons, parents do not.

May your writing spark in the reader - an awareness of just what that mixed message creates for their children's future.

Beth

mrbeckbeck's picture

Very intriguing...

Marvah,

This is a very well done op-ed. I appreciate how you take an angle of something so very common around the world, the raising of sons and daughters, and show it in a new light. By confronting something that is seen so often as "normal" you shake us awake by showing the darkness underneath.

I especially liked this quote:

My brother wanted me to wear clothes that would make others view me positively for my own good, but encouraging me to wear the clothes I like to wear would’ve empowered me instead of empowering society’s judgment of me.

How very strong! Even though he saw it as "protecting" you, it is a prison of love where you are not the one being nurtured as you need to be.

Thank you for this intriguing piece!
Scott

Scott Beck
World Pulse Online Community Manager

marvah.shakib's picture

Thank you

I am so glad that u consider this piece of writing as a "well-done p-ed!"
Your comment has just inspired me to continue writing on the social issues that seems not very important, but are very depressing, and psychologically effective on both genders!
I am sorry to reply to you very late, it is a while i have not come to my page in world pulse page.
Thanks a lot!
Marvah Shakib

Marvah

sajjadzarbafiyan's picture

Adorable Piece !

Miss Shakib!
I have read all your sweet articles, and according to this one (Prisons of Love), I am totally surprised of your civilized thoughts and ideas, I agree with you to bring equality and treat our daughters in a way we treat our sons regarding gender and rights. I am one of the human rights, especially women rights defenders, women in Afghanistan have been facing with many challenges and difficulties at home and even in the society.

Yeah this is clear that our parents purely love us and they don’t want us to face with any problem which is a good attitude.

But I think we, as the new generation and future parents Love our children, but we must treat them equally base on gender issues.
and I must say there is no doubt that you are a great leader, a grow model and representative of all Afghan girls which is a proud for all afghans.

Sajjad

Sajjad zarbafiyan

marvah.shakib's picture

Thanks

Dear Mr. Zarbafiyan,
Thank you so much for your kind message. it is a bless to have such liberal, concerned men beside us, who are patient on the violating human right issues, and depressing cultural norms.
To bring positive changes and equity in Afghan society, women surely appreciate the support, and cooperation of respectful men like you.
Thanks Again!
Marvah Shakib

Marvah

sajjadzarbafiyan's picture

Thank you

Dear Marvah Jan Shakib!

It's a great honor to be and serve for those who had passed a dark period designated by Taliban and tolerated suffers they didn't wish to, and lead them to lose their entire future.
I am reading your sweet articles daily as I arrive from the office,
Your articles are really brilliant,
I have also wrote some topics that I will upload them here then you can also pass your honorable ideas on them.
Thanks
Sajjad Zarbafiyan

Sajjad zarbafiyan

marvah.shakib's picture

Thanks!

I am so glad that you enjoy reading my writings! that is pleasing and encouraging for me...
I am exited to read ur writings of course too!
thanks a lot
Good luck

Marvah

sajjadzarbafiyan's picture

Thank you

Dear Marvah Jan Shakib!

It's a great honor to be and serve for those who had passed a dark period designated by Taliban and tolerated suffers they didn't wish to, and lead them to lose their entire future.
I am reading your sweet articles daily as I arrive from the office,
Your articles are really brilliant,
I have also wrote some topics that I will upload them here then you can also pass your honorable ideas on them.
Thanks
Sajjad Zarbafiyan

Sajjad zarbafiyan

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